LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL'S STATEMENTS FOR THE PROPOSED AMENDMENT
1. The state constitution needs to provide clear direction to its citizens, the legislature and the courts in the development, implementation and interpretation of sound public policy. This amendment eliminates obsolete language and updates the state constitution by adding needed clarity, while retaining the provision that all state debt must be approved by the electorate.
2. This amendment is needed to eliminate obsolete language such as the two-million dollar debt limitation and references to state capitol construction and other costs which were relevant in the early 1900s but do not apply today. The amendment also clarifies an exception for ordinary operating expenses, such as pension fund liability, and clarifies that debts repaid within the fiscal year are not counted as debt and therefore not prohibited. The amendment also provides clarification through an exception for debts or liabilities of independent public bodies corporate and politic (such as the Idaho Housing Finance Association or the Idaho Building Authority) which do not levy taxes or obligate the general fund of the state. This will avoid confusion and misinterpretation of this constitutional provision and allow for better functioning of state government with no additional liability to the taxpayer.
3. In the past, the Idaho Supreme Court has had to rule on some of these questions because the constitutional language was not clear. This amendment will eliminate confusion and save future taxpayer dollars for legal costs and expenses.
LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL'S STATEMENTS AGAINST THE PROPOSED AMENDMENTS
1. This amendment is not needed since the existing language and the election provision of the state constitution already limit additional debt without a vote of the people. Case law has decided that ordinary expenses and debts repaid within the fiscal year are not violations of the state constitution. Further there have been case law decisions stating that debt incurred by independent public bodies corporate and politic does not violate the state constitution.
2. Theoretically, this amendment would allow the state to incur unlimited amounts of debt without the financial ability to repay it, subject to a simple majority vote at a general election on each measure giving rise to new debt. Debt could be incurred through the initiative process without the means of repayment.
3. The state constitution is a historical document. It should not be changed to address problems that do not exist. Case law adequately covers any problem that has been advanced by the advocates of the proposal.